One of North Texas’ most outrageous real estate fraud schemes ended just as 2018 began to take shape.
Nancy Carroll, or Nancy Jackson Spinks, as she is sometimes called, walked into a Tarrant County district courtroom on January 4th with her attorney by her side, her husband Bubba Spinks, 23 years younger, sitting alone on the last bench in the back of the courtroom.
But the 46-year-old left in handcuffs, wasting no time in serving the 10-year reduced sentence bestowed on her that day by Judge George Gallagher as reparation for the more than $8.6 million she stole through money-laundering from 23 victims at Millennium Title in Southlake. She stole funds clients had entrusted to her through home sales and closings, 1041 Exchanges, and even life insurance funds, such as the family of Jeremiah Adam Wright. Wright’s widow hired Carroll to create a trust account for the $100,000 she and her two young daughters received in insurance funds after her husband was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2005. Carroll wrote the family and said she would apply for a tax identification number for the estate, then deposit the funds to a court registry in Wise County.
The funds were never deposited.
According to court records, Carroll committed multiple acts of money laundering throughout North Texas, and used stolen money to pay off notes on her own personal real estate purchases. She also created a Ponzi-like scheme of placing other’s real estate assets into trusts to hide her ownership of them. One victim told me he was mowing the lawn at his McKinney home when he was served with foreclosure documents on his prior home — a home he had sold, or believed he had sold, through Nancy Carroll. Instead, she put the property in a trust, never wired the payoff, but made the monthly payments. Once she stopped making the payments, the bank began foreclosure proceedings. At least one North Texas real estate firm was sending letters to customers like this:
In court, Nancy Carroll was meek, downtrodden and remorseful, a far cry from the woman who fled Texas to suburban Chicago just weeks before officials with the Texas Department of Insurance took her Southlake company into receivership. She called her mother from Illinois, where she was leasing a home for $8,500 a month, saying she wanted to get in touch with the publisher of “The Wolf of Wall Street”, and had already started writing the first chapter of her book/movie, “Everything that Glitters is not Gold”, which would star Reese Witherspoon. Oh and the cover: her own hands in handcuffs holding a Louis Vuitton handbag.
Nancy plead guilty to misappropriation of fiduciary property and theft of $1.6 million.
Nancy Jackson Carroll’s excessive spending habits and elaborate lifestyle included fur coats, numerous Mercedez-Benz vehicles, horses, more than $75,000 for a swimming pool at her Keller home, $12,500 for a Taylor Swift concert, $4,300 to attend the Academy of Country Music Awards and $100,000 for her second wedding at Rough Creek Lodge and Resort in Erath County.
The former lawyer from Keller, also known as Nancy Jackson Spinks, 46, skimmed money from countless real estate transactions through the years that were funded through her various title companies.
“She is a financial predator in every sense of the word,” prosecutor Nathan Martin told reporters, including KXAS’s Scott Gordon after the sentencing. “Without a doubt she deserves to be in prison.”
The sentencing was scheduled at 9 a.m., but did not begin until well after 10 o’clock.
Only Bubba accompanied Nancy and her attorney, Lance Evans — one of Fort Worth’s priciest criminal defense attorneys — into the courtroom. Officials from the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) were present, as well as four to five of the victims of Nancy Carroll’s white collar crime spree. Few wanted to speak on camera, but Tarrant County prosecutor Nathan Martin finally said a few words. Martin was resolute: he called Nancy Carroll a financial predator.
I asked Martin if Carroll would ever practice law again in Texas.
“I certainly hope not,” he responded. Carroll relinquished her law license in August of 2016.
I asked if she would try for Shock Probation, as had been rumored, where a judge orders a convicted offender to prison for a short time then suspends the remainder of the sentence in favor of probation. The theory is that the initial harsh experience of prison will provide an effective deterrent from recidivism. But no. Martin, in fact, told me he would vigorously oppose any form of early probation for Ms. Carroll.
A “Consultation Setting Plea Offer Acknowledgement” was filed by the District Attorney’s Office, which recommended that Ms. Carroll agree to a sentence of 20 years in the Texas Department of Corrections, agree to an unspecified amount of restitution, and agree to surrender her law, real estate, and insurance licenses permanently. What she got, through negotiation, was 10 years.
Victims told me TDI investigators had worked tirelessly on the case, including a female investigator who went to Chicago to personally arrest Carroll last year. (She was caught when her husband used one of her credit cards to buy food at a suburban Chicago mall.) One of the investigators even told me he had been buying a home when he first started working on the Carroll case. It made him think twice about the closing process, and he asked for proof of payoff. None of the victims spoke about their cases in court.
Carroll, by the way, penned her extraditing experiences on her trip back to Texas as less than luxurious. She calls herself a “newly self-professed civil rights activist,” and she is suing PTS of America, the transport company that transferred her from jail in Illinois to Texas. Carroll is representing herself, pro se:
On March 4th at approximately 6:00 am, I found myself being summoned from a holding cell in the Lake County Jail, in Waukegan, Illinois, to be transported back to Tarrant County, Texas, for six days in a transport van across the country.
I’m a real estate attorney from Southlake, Texas, an affluent suburb of Dallas. Prior to 2016 I had never been charged with or committed a criminal act or incurred an incident record of any kind beyond a speeding ticket. I’ve never had any mental or medical issues or been medicated beyond Advil, antibiotics and blood pressure medicine. Today I am a newly self-professed civil rights activist, wife, mother of three minor children living in Texas on an ankle monitor awaiting indictment for allegations of embezzling and theft from the title company I owned, Millennium Title. In December 2015 through January 2016 following a prolonged audit by the Texas Department of Insurance, I began negotiations for the sale of my company. After failing to sell the company, I decided in January 2016 to put the company into receivership and move to the Chicago area near my younger sister’s family to start over. At the time I moved, no criminal charges were threatened or pending against me. On February 11th, two weeks after moving and with no notice, I was arrested in Illinois on an arrest warrant from Texas. I would spend nearly 30 days sitting in an Illinois county jail waiting for the state of Texas to file a case against me so that the extradition process could begin. My family and I were told I would be transported to Texas by airplane and accompanied by a Federal Marshall. That was not the case.
My six days of transport from Illinois to Texas were the most dangerous, terrifying, demeaning and inhumane conditions I have ever witnessed. The private transport companies hired by jails and prisons to move inmates across the country disregard all basic human rights and protections.
Prosecutors actually encouraged the press to look further into Carroll’s crime schemes, and her claims (made on a recorded phone call to her mother when she was in custody in Illinois) that she would not be prosecuted because her crime was merely “white collar”. Carroll laughed, and gave herself the nickname “Millennium Mobster.”
“I’ll just get a slap on the wrist,” she reportedly said.
She even broke the law while in custody:
While jailed in Lake Forest, Carroll called her husband several times to withdraw the maximum amount from bank accounts and a PayPal account in what prosecutors say was an attempt to liquidate the accounts so authorities wouldn’t seize the funds she acquired while bankrupting her company.
Also while in custody in Lake Forest, she directed her husband to have her son wipe her cellphone in an attempt to remove evidence in her case.
But last Wednesday, Carroll was not laughing. Her voice was tiny and breaking as she responded to questions and signed paperwork. She was tearful and apologized to Judge Gallagher.
“You don’t need to apologize to me,” Judge George Gallagher said. “Your actions have destroyed a lot of lives.”
Bubba, her young husband and the father of her youngest child, stayed in the courtroom alone, until Nancy was led away. They had met when Bubba was 15. The two did not speak or make eye contact. I tried to talk to Bubba, asked him if he was going to press for probation, but he stormed off and out of the courtroom.
Spinks’ attorney, Lance Evans, said she regrets her actions.
“Miss Carroll knows the damages that her actions have caused can never be fully repaired,” Evans said. “But she hopes what happened today is a start.”
As for parole, Evans told me he’s “not that kind of attorney,” but in two to three years it could be considered. Tarrant County prosecutor Nathan Martin says he will be watching.
“The actions of Ms. Carroll are a huge consumer concern, ” said Martin. “She deserves to be in prison, she victimized 23 people.”
Of the $8.6 million Carroll/Spinks was ordered to restitute the consumers she defrauded, only $3.6 million will be covered by the Texas Department of Insurance’s policy guaranty fund. The Texas Title Insurance Guaranty Association (“TTIGA”) collects a policy guaranty fee from all title insurance transactions to fund the title insurance agent audit function of the Texas Department of Insurance, and to fund the payment of covered escrow account shortages resulting from the insolvency of a title insurance agent. Those who lost money on the 1031 Exchanges have no recourse under Texas law.
And guess who ultimately pays those fees to the guaranty fund? Consumers — you and me.